Chan Chin-wei enjoyed a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Tereza Mrdeza of Croatia in the second round of qualifying at the OEC Taipei WTA Ladies Open yesterday to join fellow Taiwanese Chan Yung-jan, Chan Hao-ching and Lee Ya-hsuan in the main singles draw of the US$125,000 event being staged this week at the Taipei Arena.
Last year’s champion Kristina Mladenovic of France is not defending her title and Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm is the top seed. Also in with a good chance at the WTA 125K Series event are Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, China’s Zhang Shuai and Ayumi Morita of Japan.
World No. 51 Zhang is in great form, beating Morita to land the title in Nanjing on Sunday and having won her first WTA title in Guangzhou in September, where she defeated Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
Date-Krumm crashed out in the first round in Nanjing last week, but the world No. 54 is the next highest-ranked player in the tournament after Zhang, although the 59th-ranked Wickmayer is not far behind.
The Belgian has been drawn to play Chan Chin-wei in the first round today.
Morita has good record in Taipei, winning the title while it was still an ITF tournament in 2011 and having reached the final in the previous two years. An injury ended her tournament last year and the hamstring problem that forced her to retire after losing the first set to Zhang in Nanjing must be a concern.
“At 4-3 when I was leading, I suddenly couldn’t push my left leg and I am sorry I have to retire,” Morita was quoted as saying on the WTA Web site after Sunday’s final. “It has been a tough week for me. I had a couple of good, long matches. I tried, but I could not continue today.”
FIRST SEED EXITS
Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia became the first seeded player to taste defeat at the Taipei Arena, losing her first-round match against Alla Kudryavtseva yesterday.
The Russian downed her 78th-ranked opponent 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) in just over two hours.
The other seeded players are Kurumi Nara, Caroline Garcia and Misaki Doi.
Taiwan’s best hope in the singles competition would seem to be Chan Yung-jan, who despite her current lowly ranking of 248, won the tournament in 2009.
After a good start to the year, when she beat Daniela Hantuchova in the first round of the Australian Open before narrowly losing a three-setter to former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, the 24-year-old has been plagued by vertigo, causing her to miss a number of tournaments and leading to a plunge in her ranking.
She plays Ekaterina Bychkova today after the Russian defeated Paula Kania of Poland in qualifying yesterday.
In other qualifying matches yesterday, Lesley Kerkhove won an all-Dutch clash against Arantxa Rus, while Valeria Solovyeva of Russia beat Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk in three sets.
In other first-round matches in the main draw, Daria Gavrilova beat fellow Russian Vera Dushevina in straight sets, Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck breezed past Olga Puchkova of Russia 6-1, 6-3 and German world No. 98 Dinah Pfienmaier bounced back to beat Stephanie Dubois of Canada 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 6-4.